CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A deadline within the Affordable Care Act is fast approaching and thousands of West Virginians, like many more across the country, have still not enrolled for mandated health care insurance.
The enrollment deadline is March 31.
Fred Earley, president of Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, said — as of Wednesday — 10,970 West Virginians had enrolled for health care coverage through the federal exchange while another 4,010 West Virginians had independently sought new coverage from Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield.
Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield is the only insurance company offering coverage plans in West Virginia through the federal exchange. The federal exchange provides coverage subsidies to help with the plan costs for those who qualify.
After a slow start because of problems with healthcare.gov when the enrollment window first opened last October, “It’s getting better, (but) it’s still not up to where we thought the projections would be,” said Earley.
With less than three weeks remaining until the deadline, Earley said Highmark’s enrollment numbers were, at least, 25 percent below projections.
“There’s still time to come with March,” he said on Wednesday’s MetroNews “Talkline.” “Our volumes are still high. The calls on our dedicated phone lines for this are still coming in pretty heavily, so we’re still anticipating that we’ll get a good bit of surge here over the next three weeks.”
Highmark’s enrollment figures reflect what is happening nationally.
As of earlier this week, 4.2 million total people had enrolled for health care insurance through the federal exchanges which were created in the Affordable Care Act. It’s off the pace from what the Department of Health and Human Services had originally projected and stands at about 75 percent of the target goal.
People who don’t have health insurance after March 31 may be subjected to tax penalties through the Internal Revenue Service.
Since October, more than 87,000 West Virginians who qualify have enrolled for coverage through the Medicaid expansion.